Tuesday, February 27, 2018

4 New Screenshots from MAGIC 2018 | Kickstarter Update #80

4 New Screenshots from MAGIC 2018

Four new Shenmue III images were revealed by Yu Suzuki at his MAGIC 2018 conference and these were released as a brief Kickstarter Update.

Each image contains one of four different NPCs (some also featuring Ryo) which really emanate a Shenmue vibe. The contribution of the Lakshya Digital team, to whom Yu Suzuki gave special mention during his conference, is apparent with a noticeable improvement in the character models.
In this post we will run through the four images, and add a few comments (however no hidden Easter Eggs have been discovered in them so far!).

Image #1

The first image shows a little girl in a pink cardigan, her hair tied up behind in double buns behind her head. She looks up with a playful expression on her face.

Isn’t she charming?
"Isn’t she charming?"

Her age and appearance is reminiscent of Megumi, one of the neighborhood children from the first Shenmue game who looks after the orphaned kitten at Yamanose shrine.
Megumi Mishima from Yamanose in Shenmue 1.
Megumi Mishima from Yamanose in Shenmue 1.
The background of the image shows a clay path leading to with rough, shallow steps. To the side is a rocky area where wild grasses and flowers grow, next to a sturdy wooden post or pole. Similar scenery elements can be found in Bailu village, for example in the area highlighted here:

Screen capture from Development Room Progress Report #2)
Screen capture from Development Room Progress Report #2)

Image #2

The second image shows an updated model of a character whose concept art was first introduced in Kickstarter Update #69 (July 2017) - let's call her the "temple maiden". The official caption for the image is "From a scene featuring the recently-introduced character" (the Japanese text refers to it as a "frame"), indicating that this is one frame from an in-game cut scene.

From a scene featuring the recently introduced character.
"From a scene featuring the recently introduced character."
I very much like the adjustments made to the model of the character's face since last time. The difference is apparent seen in a side-to-side comparison:

Adjustments to the character's model since the previous update.
Adjustments to the character's model since the previous update.
Also, Ryo is holding a bamboo pole, possibly the end of a bamboo broom like the one the character was shown holding in the concept art (although the angle he's holding it at seems somewhat aggressive!).

Concept art and model from Kickstarter Update #69.
Concept art and model from Kickstarter Update #69.
The red rails in front of which they are standing, together with the houses across the water, suggests that this scene takes place on one of the curved bridges that can be seen in the background of last December's image:

It can also be observed that the scenery in the background of the December image has been reworked and softened for a more humid feel, which Yu Suzuki called in last year's 4Gamer interview "graphics you can smell":
Comparison of background detail from the previous and latest "temple maiden" images.
Comparison of background detail from the previous and latest "temple maiden" images.

Image #3

The third image shows Ryo with an elderly man who is described in the caption as being "masterly-looking", a hint that he may be a martial arts expert. The face of the elderly character is finely rendered, including details such as the folds of his cheeks and a mark near the center of his forehead.

The image may be part of an action scene, as Ryo has his arm raised as if to strike a blow, while the master faces away.

They are standing in front of what looks like the branches of a willow tree. (Has anyone spotted where these willow trees may be located in the images or concept art we have seen so far?)
Who is this masterly-looking elderly gentleman?
"Who is this masterly-looking elderly gentleman?"

Image #4

The final image contains the character we have seen sparring with Ryo in the Gamescom teaser video: the muscly guy wearing red suspenders.

This image shows off some kind of warehouse area, with cardboard boxes, crates and barrels stacked around. The ground is wet and strewn with rubbish. A number of gas bottles of various kinds can also be seen in the background, perilously close to an open fire burning in a metal drum.

I didn't pick up on any noticeable changes to his model compared to the Gamescom teaser, but his pose in this image is distinctive with both arms being held in front of him.

That stance means war! Ryo, it’s time for action!!
"That stance means war! Ryo, it’s time for action!!"

Connection with Niao Sun Confirmed?

Niao Sun, one of the four leaders of the Chi You Men organization, is someone whose identity has been revealed to the public since the earliest days of Shenmue, but whom we have yet to see in the game. (However, it may be reasonable to expect her to make an appearance in Shenmue III; she was even spotted hidden in the background of the Gamescom teaser video).

Niao Sun
Niao Sun
She is associated with the color red, and represented by a Red Phoenix. She is also a master of the Praying Mantis fighting style.

You may recall that the concept art for the muscly character revealed him to be wearing a belt buckle with the symbol of a bird on it. At that time, the red theme to his outfit and the bird image were already suggestive of a link to Niao Sun:
Belt buckle detail from the character design sketch.
Belt buckle detail from the character design sketch.
Now in this latest image, his "praying-mantis-like" pose is a clue to the Praying Mantis style, bolstering the mounting hints that he is one of Niao Sun's lackeys. (Thanks to that walking encyclopedia of Shenmue knowledge, Spaghetti, for pointing out this connection).

Final Comment

Overall the images reveal marked improvements: the team has continued to take the modeling of the NPCs in a positive direction, while the backgrounds also do have a soft "humid" feeling that for me evokes the Shenmue world.

I think this has made us all the more eager to see them in motion - including facial animation - and I hope we will get to see at least a short demonstration of this in the near future.

Leave a message with your own thoughts or discoveries below.

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  1. I always enjoy your post switch! In this pics I think we can see an anterior model of Ryo, halfway between gamescom and the last picture that Cedric shared on his tweeter account, there's no facial animation in his eyes yet.


    1. Thanks John, can't wait to see Ryo and the other characters in motion with facial animation in place!

  2. That little girl image simply oozes with Shenmue aesthetic. Can’t wait to see more media later on this year.

    1. Yes, this image knocked my socks off. It really speaks well as to the level of quality we can look forward to with the rest of the NPCs.

    2. I’m quite obsessed with it as I look at these new images every day now. Even the most minute detail such as the wrinkles in her clothes is breathtaking and this is just an NPC...

      Also, Ryo’s jacket is quite worthy of mention as well. The detail has vastly improved from prior images as Peter pointed out in the lastest Shenmue Lounge video. I didn’t even pay attention to it until that mention because I was soley focused on the faces of Ryo and the elderly gentleman.